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The Very Different Peace with Vietnam

Clinton is lambasted but Nixon was praised

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, July 12, 1995.

When Richard Nixon went to China, he was praised for being the only man who could have taken that step and brought the nation with him. Nixon, of course, was the lap dog of the right wing back then, or so viewed, and because his anti-communist credentials were deeply established, nobody could accuse him of being soft on communism if he decided to break the two decade exclusion of China from our diplomatic vision. At that time, China was called Red China, and an overcrowded little island of crypto-fascists under the Kuomintang party of Chaing Kai Chek was called - for some reason - China. After Nixon’s visit, real life raised its dazed head and China was again China and island seethed and became, again, Taiwan. Nixon had courage to do what he knew he had to do.

Anno 1995. Bill Clinton, an anti-war draft dodger, recognizes Vietnam and plans to exchange ambassadors. Clinton, however, has no credentials that protect him from the whines and charges of the right wing - that he is soft on communism and has thrown away the lives of all who died and were imprisoned in the seven year war. He had little to gain by his act - but he did it and the nation should be grateful: it took more courage for Clinton to do what he did than it did for Nixon.

Of course, neither move was made without ulterior motive. China was needed to play off against the Soviet Union, both to benefit our war in Vietnam and to divide the two then communist giants. And that took courage. Even if the unleashed Tiger that is China, who Nixon once was canonized for acknowledging, even if China is the common fear that allowed it to happen.